Sunday, January 18, 2009

Pomegranates, pt. 1, 393 words

Persephone was the most beautiful of the Olympian goddesses, innocent and pure and beloved (or lusted after) by all. Many tried to woo her, but her mother Demeter would have nothing of it. Demeter raised Persephone well away from the other gods of Olympus and their over-dramatic habits and ways, hoping to protect her beautiful daughter from being taken to bed against her will and well before her time, as Zeus had done to Demeter herself.

So it came to pass that Persephone and two nymphs were taking a warm late-summer day to wander the fields and gather flowers. The only one around to see them was Helios, the sun, who could see everything from his lofty place in the sky. He looked down and espied the beautiful women, and was especially taken by sweet, lovely Persephone. In his lust, Helios abandoned his charge and dove to the earth. The nymphs fled before the falling sun god, but Persephone stood her ground, unafraid and curious of her cousin god which she had been kept from.

Her curiosity proved her undoing. When Helios landed, he hardly spoke his greetings and pleasantries before he tried to have his way with Persephone. She resisted, but the young goddess was much weaker than the sun, and in their fight and his raging passion she burned up and died.

Hades discovered her in his realm, a broken shade of a goddess. She had not even the power or coin to compel Charon to bring her across the Styx into the underworld. Pitying her state and nursing his own deep love for her, Hades brought her into the underworld and housed her in his own home. She was despondent and barely more than half aware, however, and could only sit listlessly by and while away the deep, gloomy days of the underworld.

Up above, in the world of the living, Helios came to his senses and realized what he had done. He flew away to find Demeter and, knowing Persephone was dead, told how she could be found in the underworld.

"Why?" Demeter asked.

"Because," he said, "Hades came and abducted her from the summer fields. I saw everything from above, and descended in my wrath to stop him – but I was too late, and succeeded only in burning grass instead of the deep dark god of the underworld."

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